Privacy and Liberty

in the Computer Age

Related Links

Advocacy Groups Numerous advocacy groups have formed to address these tricky public policy issues, and I've listed some below. Warning: this section may lead you to read material critical of various individuals and agencies of the U.S. and other governments. Most of the pages I've found from here seem to present information in a complete and unbiased manner (e.g. the full texts of legal briefs and Acts of Congress, with all the whereases and resolveds), and to separate that information from their own opinions thereon, but remember that these are advocacy groups. Don't act on any of this material, or any politically-tinged message you read on the Net, until you've convinced yourself of its accuracy and considered its arguments critically.

American Civil Liberties Union

The American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU is the oldest group on this list, dating to the early 20th century. It has been lobbying, suing, and defending in the non-partisan pursuit of individual liberties since long before there were computers.

[CAUCE logo] The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email

(CAUCE) is a group of Net users and ISP sysadmins looking for effective ways to reduce the amount of SPAM in their inboxes.

Center for Democracy and Technology

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) is an organization dedicated to harnessing the potential of computers and computer networks to build true participatory democracy.

The Center for Public Integrity

an organization of journalists whose mission is to investigate and expose what governments and large corporations are doing, including the Federal Government's dealings with privacy issues.

Citizens' Internet Empowerment Coalition

The Citizens' Internet Empowerment Coalition formed, as nearly as I can tell, in response to the passage of the Communications Decency Act of 1997, as comprising individuals, civil-rights organizations, computer hardware and software companies, library and journalist organizations, etc.

[CPSR logo] The organization Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

(CPSR) has existed for about twenty years, I think; it's concerned not only with privacy and individual liberties but with many other facets of computers' effects on the real world, including the reliability of computer software to control nuclear weapons, the treatment of women and minorities in the computer profession, the tiering of society into "information rich" and "information poor", etc. Check out their Web page at

Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is dedicated to using computer and telecommunication technology to benefit humanity, and heading off attempts to stifle those benefits. Check out their moderated "announcements" newsgroup,, their unmoderated "discussion" newsgroup,, or their general Web page.

Electronic Privacy Information Center

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, is yet another organization dedicated to privacy in electronic media.


ICRA, the Internet Content Rating Association, is an international, independent organization that provides a rating system for Web pages. The author of the page fills out a form rating the page for nudity, sexual activity, language, violence, etc. and parents can set the Web browsers on their home computers to allow or deny access to sites based on the sites' ratings and the parents' standards and preferences.

Vote Smart

Vote Smart is not an advocacy group for any particular political view, except that voting citizens should know what their elected representatives are doing. It's a carefully non-partisan group that collects biographies, voting records, lists of major campaign contributors, etc. from legislators and candidates, including "voter scorecards" from such varied special-interest groups as the NRA, the AIDS Action Council, the ACLU, the Christian Coalition, the National Organization for Women, the Libertarian Party, and many others. See who likes (and dislikes) your representatives before you vote!

Best Viewed With Any Browser

The "Any Browser Campaign" is not about Net privacy at all, but rather about Net accessibility: to wit, it opposes the construction of Web sites and pages that can be used only with Netscape 7.0, or only with Internet Explorer 9.3, or only on Windows machines with a screen size of 1280x1024, or whatever. Most of my pages have been designed using less than cutting-edge HTML, and in such a way that people with slow connections, and even people using text-only browsers like lynx, can see all but the inherently multi-media content on the page. Where I have used frames, I've been careful to include a <noframes> tag to tell lynx users how to get at the content. And so on.

This page Bobby approved

On a related topic, Bobby is a Web-based program that checks your Web page for accessibility -- to the blind, the deaf, or just those with slow Net connections -- and produces a report pointing out common problems in your page and how to correct them. The "Bobby Approved" icon indicates that this page has passed the test with "four stars".

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Last modified: Tue Aug 28 11:32:06 EDT 2007
Stephen Bloch /
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